Citi Bike, the Lyft-operated bike-share service celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, is the largest municipal bike-share service in the United States, with more than 27,000 bikes and 1,700 separate docking stations spread across four of New York City’s five boroughs, Governors Island, and parts of New Jersey. That’s a towering number of docking locations, and more are installed all the time.
Who in their right mind would make it their mission to visit every single one of the 1,700-and-counting Citi Bike docking stations? As it turns out, several ambitious riders.
Meet the power users
In early January 2023, someone on Reddit’s grassroots Citi Bike community (r/citibike) asked: “Anyone else trying to get to 100% on Citi Bike?” in reference to visiting all of the stations in New York.
A dozen people — Redditors, to use the social website’s parlance for its users — responded in the affirmative.
A Redditor named mercyful_fade, a self-described 40-something human rights lawyer and novelty rock band musician who uses Citi Bike for his commute, was among them (Rev is using Reddit usernames for these sources by their request).
At the time, mercyful_fade had, over the course of his 1,742 total rides, hit 444 stations, or 24.7% of the total.
“If my rate of visiting stations is faster than the rate of Citi Bike adding new ones, I think I can hit 100% in maybe ten years,” he told Rev in a recent phone interview. “Certainly, within my lifetime.”
Another Redditor caught the attention of the community with the sheer magnitude of their progress: “75% (top 1%) 1,343 stations to date,” wrote TwoWheelsTooGood.
Perhaps not coincidentally, TwoWheelsTooGood and mercyful_fade are both “Bike Angels,” riders who move docked bikes from crowded stations to less crowded ones in exchange for points that can be traded in for free bike rental time, membership extensions, or branded swag. Citi Bike automatically keeps track of the Bike Angels’ progress within its app, denoting all the stations that users have visited so far with a check mark, displaying their total number of stations reached, and noting how their completion rate ranks them among all riders.
In an interview with Rev on Reddit’s direct message service, TwoWheelsTooGood, a tech worker by day, admitted they’re a sucker for “honest gamification” and that seeing the station numbers climb within their Citi Bike app was enough to motivate them to try and reach them all.
Being part of the Bike Angels program was what originally incentivized mercyful_fade to visit many more and further-flung stations than he would have just commuting or riding for fun, but he wasn’t intending to try and reach all the Citi Bike stations. Since posting that Reddit comment, however, he’s fully embraced the challenge as a way to better acquaint himself with New York.
“It’s cool to see where I have been and haven’t been. And try to find some new neighborhoods and new parts of the city.”
TwoWheelsTooGood agrees. They’ve already visited each station in their home borough of Queens and are currently working their way through the rest. One of their favorite, unexpected finds? “How nice waterfront parks and bike lanes are in Hunts Point, the warehouse district in the Bronx.”
If you’re curious, you can easily keep up with TwoWheels’ quest: They post point-of-view videos of their rides on their YouTube Channel and images of cycling conditions on their Twitter account.
How to reach more Citi Bike stations
As for those who wish to follow in the completionists’ footsteps — er, pedal strokes — they have a few suggestions.
“Track your progress, set a goal of at least one new station per week, and when the weather and traffic are great, extend your explorations,” wrote TwoWheels. They also recommended using the opportunity to exercise some civic responsibility. “Take pictures. Report dangerous road conditions to 311. They really do fix sunken manholes in the bike lane and loose steel plates in construction zones.”
Perhaps most importantly, the Citi Bike 100%-ers suggest taking time to enjoy the journeys.
mercyful_fade said he’s encountered many memorable sights along his nearly 1,800 rides. One of his favorites was coming across an impromptu gathering of cyclists on an embankment just off the Brooklyn side of the Manhattan Bridge.
“I thought it was fun and cool that folks were turning this kind of forgettable space into an intentional party with drinks and music for all the bikers coming off the bridge.… And then I see who’s the ringmaster leading the party, and it’s one of my good friends from high school,” mercyful_fade said. “I hadn’t seen him since we were in San Jose, California, 20 years earlier. Random and great NY experience!”
“Plan a trip to new neighborhoods and see how you could work in some docks,” advised mercyful_fade. “Don’t make the biking the point.”